Having signed up to compete in the 28th Venice Marathon on Sunday October 27th I also had to have a medical cert issued to say that I was fit and healthy and ready to run. As it turned out I didn’t have time to get it done in Dublin as I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor. The organisers of the marathon however had the helpful option of completing the health check in Venice. Solution found to my problem. I signed up on line to do mine on Friday October 25th at 10.00 a.m in Delta Medica in Mestre. I’d have it done nice and early get it out of the way and then sit back safe in the knowledge the only thing left was the small matter of running the 26 miles.
We (me, Him-indoors and Mincer) flew out to Venice on Thursday 24th fairly early in the morning. Flight about 9ish I think. Like all good Irish boys we were in the airport about two hours beforehand. When I say airport I obviously mean airport bar. We dropped our bags off and then headed to the bar to drop off our pre flight jitters with a few pints. There is something terribly exciting about having a pint before 8 o’clock in the morning. It’s like breaking a rule but because you are technically on holiday you don’t get shunned for it. Everyone knows you can drink at any time of the day or night while on holidays. Myself and Mincer had a few pints of Coors and Him-indoors sensibly stayed on tea (which reminds me, you can’t get a proper cup of tea when you are away).
After boarding the flight myself and Mincer got stuck into the mini bottles of wine. As they are smaller it’s perfectly ok to drink as many of them as you like. So we did. I would say we were only slightly merry when we arrived in Venice. Loads of room for more beer and wine. If you haven’t been to Venice you won’t know how gorgeous it is. Being a bit touched by OCD I had looked up all possible routes from Marco Polo airport to our apartment which was only a few minutes walk from the Arsenale stop. I had visions of myself arriving by Gondola like James Bond in his finery. We got the water bus with all the rest of the economy class people and I was in jeans and a TShirt. It was a bit cramped seat wise and kind of the equivalent of Ryanair on the sea but it got us where we wanted to go in under an hour and the views were just amazing
We found our apartment and dropped our bags and after a good 3-4 second debate we went to the pub. It’s always important to set yourself a goal each today. The goal today was to get roaring drunk as it was the first night of our holiday. We were staying on a lovely street with bars, cafes and restaurants and set out exploring them. Fast forward about ten hours and not only have we hit our goal, we have surpassed it by such a distance that it was now a vague memory. At some point auto pilot must have kicked in because I was woken by my alarm screeching in my ear.
Fuuuuuuuuuucccccckkkkkkkkkkkk I have my marathon health check today. A thousand thoughts flying through my mind. Go back asleep and pretend it’s not happening. Go back to sleep for ten more minutes you will definitely wake up again. Go back to sleep because you can’t focus your eyes correctly and there is a brass band actually rehearsing inside your head. Go back to sleep because getting up after a massive booze session is just not humane.
I managed to literally drag myself to the shower and dress. Him-indoors who not as badly drunk the night before as me also got up to go to the health check with me. I was rattling and I mean rattling with a hangover. Mestre where the place I had to go to was actually on the mainland. I had to get a boat first. That wasn’t actually that bad because I could sit outdoors and worst case scenario I could throw up over the side. After the boat there was a bus trip of about 20 minutes. That 20 minutes felt like two hours. It was a billion degrees (well it was warm) and the sweat was pouring off me. I had a plastic bag in my pocket in case of an emergency. I was that kind of hung over on public transport where you think that everyone is looking at you and they can see you get paler by the second and nudge each other as if to say ‘look at your man he’s going to throw up’.
When I finally got off the bus I had to then walk about another 15 minutes to find the medical centre. Alcohol had somehow managed to take away my power of direction. Despite using Google Maps I still kept getting lost. I had to ring and say I was lost and would be an hour late. To be fair they were very accommodating and made me a new appointment.
Clutching a bottle of water like my life depended on it I sat in the waiting room until my name was called. The staff was incredibly friendly with a fair grasp of English. I could tell the nurse suspected I was a little under the weather. I was still sweating and could only manage slow responses. My name, my name……. I know this one.. Rory that’s my name. She made me blow into some kind of lung checker thing and seemed happy with the results. She filled in a few notes and said we were done. Wow that was easy. NOPE I was done with her but had to see the doctor.
So off to the next room I went and answered more questions. This doctor while equally nice had pidgin English and my Italian was pretty much not existent. Through the great art of speaking the same words louder and the wonder that is miming actions we muddled our way through a questionnaire. I then found myself sitting on an exercise bike with about ten ECG type leads stuck to my back and chest which were hooked up to a monitor. At that point I felt the need to explain I was hung over. Like really hung over. He smiled and nodded and made a gesture that I had to start cycling. Not until that moment did it enter my head that a health check would involve any kind of exercise. I needed sleep and lots of it.
I began to sweat. Like really sweat. Beads of water dripping down my face sweat. I was literally boiling hot. It was like I was actually sitting on the sun itself. I think I was cycling for about 45 seconds at this point. Then came the ‘dizzy’. I started to lose focus and had to squint to see around me. Everything was moving. The exercise bike must have come off its stand. That would explain the moving. No, it was the hangover fighting to take control and it was winning big time. It’s at that point you say that little prayer silently in your head ‘if I get through this I won’t drink again’.
The doctor made the international mime gesture for cycle faster. I made the international gesture for I feel like shit and would rather die than endure any more of this. That gesture manifested itself as me shaking my head and rubbing my belly and looking really really sad. As it turned out that gesture had not made it to Italy and he had no idea I was in distress. He probably just thought I was really unfit. I’ll assume he had no sense of smell because I smelled like the slops bucket from behind a bar.
Then came the chills running up my spine and the taste of acid in my mouth and I knew it was all over for me. Gimme the bin, gimmie the bin I slurred at the nice doctor. He smiled and looked at this watch then checked the monitor on the bike. The bin, the bin, I need the bin. Too late. I threw myself off the bike dragging my ECG leads with me and spent a good five minutes with my head in the bin. The only thing I didn’t throw up were my memories and they were fuzzy at best. Not to be disgusting but it was the type of throw up that involves your whole face and it was coming out my nose.
God that felt good. I felt so much better. I was also standing half naked attached to ten leads beside a bin in a doctor’s office at a health check to declare I’m in a perfectly healthy condition. The irony was not lost on me. The doctor stared open mouthed at me. I stared back and then with what little self respect I had left, I done the decent thing and looked at the floor in shame.
He handed me a roll of tissue to tidy myself up and started taking the leads off me. Neither of us spoke. There was nothing really to say. I knew what I had done. He knew what I had done. He was gracious enough to let me take on the job of feeling humiliated enough without adding to it. The Italians are lovely like that.
After I composed myself I said as upbeat as I could ‘so did I pass?’ It turned out that I actually did pass but he did mumble something about me not looking well. I went back to the language of international gestures (miming drinking) and told him I had drank too much the night before but I was ok. I think I might have thrown in ‘I’m Irish’ to clear up any lingering confusion. He signed my form and I clutched it to me like a newborn baby and headed out the door.
Him-indoors was in the waiting room and could tell from my face I was not a well man. We made a swift exit from the buliding and I told him what had happened. I was not ready to laugh about it but he found it hysterical. We had to walk 3 miles then to the Expo to pick up my race pack before going home. It did have quite a snazzy running vest in it which I immediately put on. I had bloody well earned it and going to let everyone know I was a contender in this marathon. The day was a write off in every sense of the word. I swore I’m never drinking again.